Tuesday, August 28, 2007

3rd Party Tradition

Whenever I mention the Libertarian Party, I typically get a few people who cast dispersion, mostly out of ignorance. It seems a lot of people these days believe our country was founded by the two parties, and one or the other of them has always been good, the other evil. Any third party, by default, must be lunatic fringe.

The fact is, there have been many, many political parties to hold elected positions in the history of our country, and exponentially more have campaigned for office. NO, this doesn't just apply to local politics. Senators, Representatives, Governors, and even Presidents have come from other parties.

We've had 43 Presidents. Of these, there have been 5 different political parties represented, and 2 independents. The first were the Federalists with John Adams. Then, with Jefferson, the Democratic Republican party took the Presidency in 1801. Next was Jackson, as a Democrat in 1829, followed by Harrison as a Whig in 1841. Tyler, after being removed from the Whig party shortly after becoming the President, was the second and last President to not be politically affiliated, George Washington being the first. Finally, in 1861, the Republicans showed up from the ashes of the Whigs to seat Lincoln as the President.

From before to the Civil War, through Reconstruction, on up to right before World War I, the Republicans pretty much had a strangle hold on the Presidency, with the exception of Grover Cleveland, the Bourbon Democrat. I guess during that 50 year span, our country was effectively a 'One Party' system.

Even though the Democrats and Republicans swap out from time to time, that one party deal is still somewhat in effect. The big two pass laws that limit ballot access for other parties. In order for a candidate to get easy ballot access, that candidate will have to pay either the Democrats or Republicans and follow their rules. Ironically, both of the political parties that now dominate elections in this 'pay-to-play' kind of system were once outsiders, themselves.

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